How Do You Memorize Lists?

I make a lot of lists.

In fact, pretty much any aspect of my life can be found in list form somewhere. I have daily checklists, lists of restaurants I like or want to try, lists of ideas for blog entries, games, etc.

I didn’t realize until recently that this can be annoying for the people around me, particularly at game night. I host a weekly game night, and often when I’m playing a game, it’ll spark an idea for one of my games. So I’ll grab a sticky note and jot down notes.

However, it didn’t occur to me that this feels to some people like I’m not fully engaged in the game. It’s like when someone is playing around with their cell phone–it’s an invasion of the “magic circle,” the safe, escapist space you occupy with people when you play a board game.

So I’m going to try to keep these lists of notes in my head until game night ends. My go-to system for remembering lists is associate each item on the list with a single word, mash those words into a sentence, then envision that sentence.

For example, if I’m trying to remember something about crocodiles, The Flash, and peanut brittle, I might create this sentence: “Peanuts flash crocodiles.” I’ll picture a peanut flashing a crocodile.

It’s a little weird, but it’s extremely effective. Once I have that picture, it sticks, and I can just relax and continue until I have the chance to write things down.

I’m curious if you have any odd, interesting, or effective ways of remembering lists in circumstances when you can’t write them down. Let me know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “How Do You Memorize Lists?”

  1. I make acronyms. A few months ago, I was going to make pho. I couldn’t find pen & paper to remind myself what I needed, but fortunately pho is LGBT friendly. By which I mean I needed Limes, Garlic, Bean sprouts and Tofu.

  2. There’s a very entertaining book on this subject by Bob Harris. It’s called Prisoner of Trebekistan. He’s a guy who taught himself memorization techniques and basically just studied his way into being a multiple-time Jeopardy champion. His technique is very similar to yours, creating a narrative that connects random things. He’s also very funny, so the book is a great read.


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